An Afghan grand council known as the Loya Jirga convened by the President Ashraf Ghani came to an end on Friday with a resounding call of peace with the Taliban ahead of the holy month of Ramzan.
President Ghani promised to free 175 Taliban prisoners.
Loya Jirga brought together more than 3,200 politicians, tribal elders, prominent figures and others to hammer out a shared strategy for future negotiations with the Taliban.
“I want to say to the Taliban that the choice is now in your hands,” the president said at the closing ceremony in Kabul. “Now it is your turn to show what you want to do.”
Ghani said the message of the five-day gathering was clear: “Afghans want peace” and offered a ceasefire, though he stressed it would not be unilateral.
However, in a the Taliban rejected the ceasefire and said that attacks will continue during Ramzan. They however added that ‘fighters are very careful of civilians during any operation’.
The group has rejected ceasefire proposals saying US and Nato troops must withdraw from the country first.
The Taliban called the Loya Jirga an attempt by Ghani to shore up his popularity and criticised it for not mentioning the latest United Nations report, which said the US and Afghan forces killed more civilians in the first three months of this year than the militants.